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Face Masks Now Optional in Public Areas at LVHN's Facilities | WDIY Local News

Jievani Weerasinghe

Lehigh Valley Health Network says wearing a face mask is now voluntary in parts of its facilities.

Lehigh Valley Health Network said masks are now optional inside its facilities, in areas not associated with patient care.

According to a release these spaces include cafeterias, gift shops, chapels, pharmacies, and patient education and support group meetings on hospital campuses.

Masking remains mandatory in all patient care areas at all LVHN locations, like emergency rooms or medical practice waiting rooms.

The network also asks that anyone with respiratory illness symptoms also wear a mask in any of their facilities.

In a statement Dr. Timothy Friel, LVHN’s Chair of the Department of Medicine, said hospitals and health networks across the country are transitioning masking guidance to allow for additional flexibility.

He said LVHN felt it was appropriate to modify its masking policy, “given the state of the pandemic and the downward trend locally in positive tests for both COVID-19 and flu.”

Dr. Alex Benjamin, the health network’s Chief Infection Control and Prevention Officer, agreed, saying the change is “medically appropriate” based on the downward trend in local COVID-19 transmission.

Benjamin added that LVHN can modify its masking policy and operations as needed to minimize the risk of the ongoing pandemic, and noted that the health network continues to urge people to stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots.

LVHN released examples of how the new masking policy will work at different health network locations:

LVPG practice locations – Masks required, including in the waiting room.

LVHN hospitals – Masks optional to enter, or in non-patient care areas including cafeterias and gift shops. Masks also will be optional in family/visitor waiting areas. Masks are required in the emergency room registration and waiting areas, on inpatient floors, and in all other patient care areas, including in procedure areas and physical therapy/rehabilitation spaces.

Diagnostic care centers – Masks required, including in the waiting room.

ExpressCARE locations – Masks required in the registration area, waiting room and in exam rooms.

Elevators – Masks are optional.

(Original air-date: 3/6/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky was WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director until 2023.
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